Considering that blog readers might not want to read all of Lackey’s paper, that I posted in the previous post here, I am posting another couple of excerpts.
The billions spent on salmon recovery might be considered “guilt money” — modern-day indulgences — a tax society and individuals willingly bear to alleviate their collective and individual remorse. It is money spent on activities not likely to achieve recovery of wild salmon, but it helps people feel better as they continue the behaviors and choices that preclude the recovery of wild salmon.
Salmon Policy Lesson 2 — Fisheries scientists, managers, and analysts are systemically encouraged to avoid explicitly conveying unpleasant facts or trade-offs to the public, senior bureaucrats, or elected officials.
…Such a message to “lighten up” is also reflected in the comments of some colleagues in reviewing salmon recovery manuscripts. For example, a common sentiment is captured by one reviewer’s comment on a manuscript: “You have to give those of us trying to restore wild salmon some hope of success.”
In contrast, some colleagues, especially veterans of the unending political conflict over salmon policy, confessed their regret over the “optimistic” approach that they had taken during their careers in fisheries, and they now endorse the “tell it like it is” tactic. They felt that they had given false hope about the effectiveness of fishways, hatcheries, and the ability of their agencies to manage mixed stock fishing. Many professional fisheries scientists have been pressured by employers, funding organizations, and colleagues to “spin” fisheries science and policy realism to accentuate optimism. Sometimes the pressure on scientists to cheerlead is blunt; other times it is subtle. For example, consider the coercion of scientists by other scientists (often through nongovernmental professional societies) to avoid highlighting the importance of U.S. population policy on sustaining natural resources (Hurlbert 2013). The existence of such institutional and organizational pressure is rarely discussed except among trusted colleagues; nevertheless it is real.
Other colleagues took professional refuge in the reality that senior managers or policy bureaucrats select and define the policy or science question to be addressed, thus constraining research. Consequently, the resulting scientific information and assessments are often scientifically rigorous, but so narrowly focused that the information is only marginally relevant to decision makers. Rarely are fisheries scientists encouraged to provide “big picture” assessments of the future of salmon. Whether inadvertent or not, such constrained
information often misleads the public into endorsing false expectations of the likelihood of the recovery of wild salmon (Lackey 2001a, Hurlbert 2011).
If there are 50 things you could do, and not-logging is one of them (like not-farming, not-developing, not-fishing, not-damming, etc.), wouldn’t we want to know 1) how effective each intervention would be and 2) and who specifically would win and lose under each scenario, so that appropriate policy remedies for their pain might be considered? (Of course, scientists wouldn’t agree…) Otherwise we might target the most politically easy (say logging on public lands…), cause difficulties to communities that we don’t openly examine,
and never really fix the problem.